Golden Globes Change Rules, Aiming for Clarity and Credibility

The HFPA’s new rules also tackle the streaming vs. theatrical conflicts by defining simultaneous releases as films, not TV

Golden Globes statuette

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced a number of changes to the rules for the Golden Globe Awards, ranging from Best Picture eligibility and song credits to the problem of simultaneous release in theaters and on streaming services.

In addition, two of the changes seem designed to increase confidence in the integrity of the often-maligned awards, publicly spelling out the conflicts of interest that Golden Globe voters must avoid and clearing up the misconception that films and television shows must hold HFPA press conferences to be eligible for the awards.

The bulk of the new rules have to do with the Globes’ television categories. To qualify as a television series, a show must now have a total running time of more than 150 minutes, a change from the previous rule that specified six episodes. Another change deletes a rule that required an appearance in six episodes to qualify for TV acting awards.

Lead actors are now defined only as actors “who drive the narrative of a program,” while supporting actors are eligible if they appear in more than 5 percent of a program.

Another new TV rule specifies that a series that runs over parts of two different calendar years is eligible in the year in which the majority of its running time aired.

More significantly, works that are simultaneously released in theaters and on streaming services are now defined as motion pictures for the Globes, and will be eligible in the HFPA’s film categories but not its television categories.

Changes to the film rules include the fact that credits for original movie songs will be determined by the onscreen motion picture credits, and that songs will retain their eligibility even if they are released prior to the film in which they appear.

The revised rules will also spell out that to qualify for a Golden Globe in one of the two Best Motion Picture categories, a producer must be certified as eligible by the Producers Guild of America. While the Academy Awards has an appeals process and will consider producers who have been deemed ineligible by the PGA, the HFPA does not conduct its own reviews, and will accept the guild’s rulings in all cases.

In the Best Foreign Language Film category, movies are now required to provide screeners or online access in addition to the official HFPA screening. Films will retain their eligibility if they have multiple countries of origin, a practice that was observed previously but was not spelled out in the rules.

Finally, the new rules will conspicuously delete any mention of press conferences, in an attempt to end the confusion among publicists that those press conferences are a requirement for Globes consideration. And they will publicly spell out the “detailed certifications” that voting members of the HFPA must make when they vote for the Globes.

Those certifications include declarations that a voter will not cast a ballot in any categories in which he or she has a conflict of interest, including a relative working on an eligible film or program. The certifications have been in effect since the late 1960s, when the Globes were forced off the air for several years after the Federal Communications Commission determined that winners were not determined fairly.

A number of the changes are simply the result of clarifying and detailing practices that were already in effect, and were designed to end confusion rather than to alter the way Globes voting is conducted.

Rule changes are considered annually by a committee made up of HFPA members. The review process begins in February, shortly after the Golden Globes show, with a goal of settling and clarifying any changes before awards season kicks into high gear in the fall.